I think we forget that Jesus and John the Baptist were family. Scripture doesn’t give us any indication of how much time they spent together as children, if any at all. But we do know this, when Jesus heard that John had been killed He, “withdrew privately by boat to a remote place;” (Matt 14:13)
We can only guess what Jesus was feeling over the loss of this man who had baptized Him and prepared the way for His ministry on earth. Whatever He was feeling, Jesus sought the Lord in prayer.
However, He was almost immediately interrupted. And if we can relate to nothing else in this passage of scripture, we can relate to this: When we are faced with difficulty, suffering or mind-numbing grief and all we want to do is slip away and pray, or perhaps lick our wounds, often we cannot.
Instead, there is often a work for us to do, the needs of others to attend to, and so on. Here we can take a lesson from our Lord.
What was the interruption Jesus experienced here in Matthew fourteen? Scripture tells us He was overtaken by the crowds. Tired, hungry, and far from home, they looked to Him. And He fed them. Five thousand of them. With ‘all they had’ – five loaves and two fish.
Jesus didn’t turn them away because He was grieving and, perhaps, even angry about what had happened to John. No doubt, He longed to be with His Father, but first He had work to do.
I’m reminded, and helped, by something Bryanna Joy wrote in her June Letters from the Sea Tower:
“Finding it impossible to do what she would, she did what she could – and it was not nothing.”
Bryanna is writing here about Beatrix Potter, whose life, like most ours, did not go as she had hoped and planned.
I wonder, how many of us have given up on our prayer life or quiet time because we’ve been interrupted one too many times? How many of us have given up on that dream because the needs of others has had to come first?
Perhaps verse twenty-two and following may help us to get back on track:
“As soon as they had finished, He made the disciples embark and cross to the other side ahead of Him, while He dismissed the crowd; then He went up the hill by Himself to pray. It had grown late, and He was there alone.”
Maybe it has grown late for you, Beloved. But it is not too late. When the work is finished and the needs have been met, He will meet us there. Alone.
In the meantime, let us do what we can with ‘all we have’.
For it is not nothing.